US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that China”s increasingly assertive actions across the region make it more critical then ever for the four Indo-Pacific nations known as the Quad to cooperate to protect their partners and their people from Chinese “exploitation, corruption and coercion.”
Pompeo made the remark at a meeting in Tokyo with the foreign ministers of Japan, India and Australia, who together make up the Quad. The talks were the group”s first in-person since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Pompeo accused China of covering up the pandemic and worsening it, while threatening freedom, democracy and diversity in the region with its increasingly assertive actions.
“It is more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the Chinese Communist Party”s exploitation, corruption and coercion,” Pompeo said. “We see in the East and South China Seas. The Mekong, the Himalayas, the Taiwan Strait. These are just a few examples.”
The talks come less than a month before the US presidential election and amid tensions between the Washington and Beijing over the virus, trade, technology, Hong Kong, Taiwan and human rights. They follow a recent flareup in tensions between China and India over their disputed Himalayan border, while relations between Australia and China have also deteriorated in recent months.
Japan, meanwhile, is concerned about China”s claim to the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyu in China, in the East China Sea.